There was joy in both of their voices, Austin Reaves praising D’Angelo Russell and Russell doing the same for Reaves after playing tremendous games for the Lakers and showing once again that they are a dynamic backcourt.
They had just combined for 49 points and 12 assists. They had combined to shoot 17 for 27 from the field and 10 for 16 from three-point range.
They had played their roles at a high level in helping the Lakers defeat the Chicago Bulls 141-132 Thursday night.
“I just like him as a person,” said Reaves, who had 20 points on seven-for-nine shooting, two for three on three-pointers and eight assists.
“He’s a great guy,” responded Russell, who had a masterful performance with 29 points on 10-for-18 shooting and eight for 13 on three-pointers.
“But yeah, we enjoy each other though, honestly. On and off the floor, we have a good time. What you see on the floor kind of translates. We kind of feed off of each other and it carries each other and are excited for each other as well. So, I mean, I think that's where winning starts. When your team becomes that, it becomes contagious as a group.”
LeBron James makes more NBA history
Lakers forward LeBron James made more NBA history on Thursday when he became the first player to be named to 20 All-Star teams with his selection to the Western Conference starters for the game that will be played in Indianapolis on Feb. 18.
James surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most All-Star selections in league history. James will be joined in the starting lineup with Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
“I give credit and a lot of respect to my fans who have been along with me through this whole 21-year journey,” Jame said Thursday after he had produced 25 points and 12 assists. “And voting me in as an All-Star starter for the 20th consecutive time. Just very humbled. Very blessed to be able to do what I love to do and just try to give back, give back to the game that's given to me over two decades. So, to be able to know this is the first time ever in NBA history to have this many All-Star starts or whatever the case might be, it's very cool.”
James and his West All-Star teammates will face Eastern Conference starters Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, center Joel Embiid of Philadelphia, forward Jayson Tatum of Boston, guard Tyrese Haliburton of Indiana and guard Damian Lillard of Milwaukee.
James, who passed Abdul-Jabbar last season to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, is averaging 24.8 points per game, 7.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists.
“I've exceeded expectations in my career,” James said. “It's just humbling and it's very cool to continue to have accomplishments throughout your career, but I've exceeded anything further than what I ever dreamed about being in the NBA. And I did that a long time ago. Everything else is just kind of extra credit. I'm very humbled by still being able to play the game I love and have these accomplishments along the way.”
Jarred Vanderbilt continues to shine
This time, Jarred Vanderbilt added some offense to his defense and active play for the Lakers.
Besides diving on the court for loose balls, besides hustling for rebounds and defending some of Chicago’s best players, Vanderbilt scored and scored.
He made his first seven shots on his way to 17 points to go along with five rebounds, three steals and one blocked shot.
“It's the Vando we grew accustomed to when we got him last year,” James said. “Obviously, the injuries put a hurting on him early this season, but he's getting back into form. And that's the Vando we've been missing.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.